What’s in an auction

There is an upcoming auction in Minneapolis being held on line that closes May 6th that is typical of the many commercial shops that have been closing lately. This one in particular is heavy in letterpress equipment, type, cabinets, a Heidelberg platen, numbering machines, furniture cabinets stone, chases, etc and when looking at some of the current bids, in the one and two dollar amount, there may be some bargains. For example, the Hammond Glider saw is presently bid at $10.48—a ridiculous price. But as typical of auctions, there is no shipping and only two days available to pickup anything won, thus limiting this to interested people in the auction area. Dealers and scrappers usually attend the live auctions, but this one is on line and may be of interest. See:


I have nothing to do with this auction but thought it of interest. Most commercial shops do have some associated letterpress equipment and it is generally missed by those of us interested in acquiring more cast iron. Follow the links that come up on the opening auction page.


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Boy I wish I had a few million dollars to spare plus about 50 more years. This is every Letterpress person’s dream.
It’s so sad though to see so many businesses like this either quitting or going under, etc. So many shops like this that will never be again.
Winfred Reed
Black Diamond Press (Kentucky)

Read the trade press like Printing Impressions and the sad tale is there. An article today states printing/graphics lost 20% in sales volume because of the 2008 recession and that business has not come back. Add in the small amount of inflation since then and there’s a serious loss of real dollars in the printing game. That’s why there are so many plant closures and consolidations. Too much printing capacity and a shrinking market mean we will be seeing vast amounts of equipment coming on the market and that is why it is prudent to watch the auctions like the one I posted. The auction people don’t have a clue about letterpress and most shop owners are far removed from our segment and express surprise that a box full of composing sticks, as an example, would get anyone’s interest.


Is that what lino metal is worth now……about 65 cents a pound?

On another subject, it seems like they had an awful lot of ink. They must have ordered a new color for most jobs and didn’t try to use up much of the old stuff. That wouldn’t have gone over very well in the places I worked. It’s a waste of money plus a lot of expensive hazardous waste to dispose of.

We used the existing inventory to make new colors whenever possible. This is called “working off” the old inventory. For instance a lot of darker colors are made by putting black in the lighter colors, so if we had the lighter color, we could make the darker color easily enough by adding black. Or, with the clean, pure colors we could use them to make other colors instead of using the straight base colors.

With the darker, dirtier colors you could try mixing some of them together to make a more-or-less neutral dark color, and then try adding small amounts of that to black ink. If done sparingly, and with a little experimenting, I think it’s pretty unlikely that it would affect the black color enough to be noticeable.

Looks like all offset equipment, they will be lucky to get anything for them these days. Most will probably be sold to the scrap guys. It is a shame, but digital has taken over small offset shops. Cost wise to run small offsets is insane compared to digital for colour work. And to find people that can run these presses is getting harder and harder. RIP offset maybe you will be trendy like letterpress one day:(